Category Archives: Marketing

Using mobile learning for corporate training: A contextual framework

This is an excerpt from one my my latest chapters on the use of digital media.

Suggested citation: Butler, A., Camilleri, M. A., Creed, A., & Zutshi, A. (2021). The use of mobile learning technologies for corporate training and development: A contextual framework. In M. A. Camilleri (Ed.), Strategic corporate communication in the digital age. Bingley: Emerald, pp. 115-130. DOI: 10.1108/978-1-80071-264-520211007

Photo by Daniel Korpai on Unsplash

There are a number of factors that can have an effect on the successful implementation of mobile learning (m-learning) for training and development purposes, including their course content, learning outcomes, the users’ perceived ease of use, usefulness and enjoyment, among other issues.

The individuals’ accessibility to these technologies or their spatial environment can also have an effect on their engagement with m-learning. Moreover, there may be certain distractions in the environment that can disrupt m-learning and/or decrease their effectiveness.

Csikszentmihalyi’s (1975) flow theory suggests that individuals can be completely focused on specific tasks (Csikszentmihalyi, Aduhamdeh & Nakamura 2014). They may immerse themselves in their training and development through m-learning. Of course, they have to be in the right environment where there are no distractions. Hence, the contextual setting of m-learning can influence its effectiveness. For example, experiential learning theory suggests that individuals learn through their ongoing interactions with their surrounding environment as they find meanings to problems and develop their understanding (Illeris, 2007). Similarly, Kolb’s (1984) learning theory posits that knowledge may result from a combination of direct experiences and socially acquired understandings (Matthews & Candy 1999). Laouris and Eteokleous (2005) discuss about the critical factors that could influence the outcomes of m-learning.

Hence, this contribution builds on these theoretical insights and on the findings from this study. The authors of this chapter put forward a contextual framework for m-learning. They identify the specific factors, including; accessibility and cost; the usefulness of the learning content; the ease of use of the technology; time; extrinsic and intrinsic motivations (e.g. rewards and perceived enjoyment, among others); integration with other learning approaches; individual learning styles and predispositions; and spatial issues and the surrounding environment, as featured here:

A prepublication version of this contribution is available here: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/344337930_The_Use_of_Mobile_Learning_Technologies_for_Corporate_Training_and_Development_A_Contextual_Framework

The authors argue that these eight contextual factors can have an effect on the successful implementation of m-learning.

  1. Time: This relates to the time that the users dedicate to learn to use and to engage in m-learning.
  2. Spatial issues and the environment: These relate to the physical location of the user when they access m-learning content.
  3. The usefulness of the learning content: The learning content (video, audio, written, or a combination of these) has to be useful to improve the mobile users’ knowledge, skills and competences.
  4. Ease of use of the technology: The m-learning technology has to be easy to use. It may (not) be connected to wireless networks (if it is, there should not be connectivity problems when accessing the content). The m-learning technology may require passive or active learning (for example, reading and/or interacting through games).
  5. Individual learning styles and predispositions: The m-learning technology should consider the individuals’ age, cognitive knowledge (e.g. memory); skills; visual, auditory and/or kinaesthetic abilities, as well as their preferences toward certain technologies. The technology may require interaction with peers or facilitators in synchronous, or asynchronous modes (these issues will depend on the learning outcomes of the mentioned technology).
  6. Extrinsic and intrinsic motivations: Organisations and professionals should also consider extrinsic and intrinsic motivations to entice the mobile users to use the m-learning technology.
  7. Accessibility and cost: These relate to the accessibility and cost of the m-learning technology. It can be available through different mobile platforms. It may be used by wide range of users (who have different learning needs) for different purposes. The software and/or hardware ought to be reasonable priced.
  8. Integration with other learning approaches: The m-learning technology ought to be complemented and blended with offline teaching approaches.

This proposed framework represents different contextual factors that can have an effect on the successful implementation of learner-centred corporate education (see Grant, 2019; Janson, Söllner & Leimeister, 2019). These eight factors are influencing the effectiveness of m-learning during the training and development of human resources. Hence the arrows are pointing inwards. However, the factors in the outer circle are related to each other and they can lead to further considerations. M-leaners may choose a short video over a longer podcast to learning or revise depending on the content or their situation. There are innumerable other examples of contextual learning due to the diversity of people, organizations and learning resources, objects and opportunities. For example, time is related to the spatial issues and the environment. The mobile users will use their downtimes wisely at the office, at home, or whilst commuting to and from work if they engage with m-learning applications. Their down time may provide them with an opportunity to improve their learning journey.

Conclusions and implications

The contextual factors for mobile learning encompass a variety of dimensions including time, spatial issues and the environment, the usefulness of the learning content and the ease of use of the technology, individual learning styles and predispositions, extrinsic and intrinsic motivations, accessibility and cost, as well as integration with other learning approaches.  The authors posit that this comprehensive framework can support businesses in their human resources training and development. It enables them to identify all the contextual factors that can have an effect on the successful roll out of m-learning designs.

This chapter has featured a critical review of the relevant literature and has presented the findings from an empirical research. The data for this study was gathered through quantitative and qualitative methodologies. The researchers have disseminated a survey questionnaire among course participants and have organised semi-structured interview sessions with corporate training participants. In sum, this study reported that the younger course participants were more likely to embrace the m-learning technologies than their older counterparts. They suggested that they were using laptops, hybrids as well as smartphones and tablets to engage with m-learning applications at home and when they are out and about. These recent developments have led many businesses to utilize mobile technologies to engage with their employees or to use them for their training and development purposes.

Therefore, this contribution has identified the contextual factors that should be taken into account by businesses and/or by training organisations. Thus, the authors have presented their proposed framework for mobile learning. This framework is substantiated by their empirical research and by relevant theoretical underpinnings that are focused on m-learning.

The authors are well aware that every study has its inherent limitations. In this case, this sample was small, but it was sufficient for the purposes of this exploratory study. Future studies may include larger sampling frames and/or may use different research designs. The researchers believe that there is still a knowledge gap in academia on this topic. For the time being, just a few studies have explored the use of mobile learning among businesses. The mobile learning technologies can be rolled out for the training and development of corporate employees. The training organisations can encourage their course participants to engage in self-directed learning and development through formal, informal or micro learning contexts. Corporate educators and services providers of continuous professional training and development can use the mobile learning applications to improve the employees’ skills and competences. This may in turn lead to increased organisational productivities and competitiveness.

This chapter was published in Strategic Corporate Communication in the Digital Age.

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Filed under Business, corporate communication, digital media, Marketing, Mobile, mobile learning

A taxonomy of online marketing terms

This is an excerpt from one of my latest chapters on online marketing methods.

Photo by Stephen Phillips – Hostreviews.co.uk on Unsplash

Suggested Citation: Hajarian, M., Camilleri, M. A., Diaz, P., & Aedo, I. (2021). A taxonomy of online marketing methods for corporate communication. In M. A. Camilleri (Ed.), Strategic corporate communication in the digital age. Bingley: Emerald, pp. 235-250. DOI: 10.1108/978-1-80071-264-520211014

One of the well-known online marketing methods is the use of email marketing. It is one of the most popular digital tactics. Despite the current popularity of social media, many individuals still prefer to receive the news about the brands via emails (Camilleri, 2018a). Email marketing is very effective in terms of return on investment (ROI). However, there are many ways that can improve the email marketing performance (Conceição & Gama, 2019). Sahni, Wheeler and Chintagunta (2018) found that by personalizing email marketing (e.g. adding the name of the receiver to the email subject), the probability that the receiver reads the email increases by 20%. Conceição and Gama (2019) have developed a classification algorithm to predict the effectiveness of email campaign. The authors suggested that the open rates were based on the keywords that were featured inside the email. They maintained that the utilization of personalized messages and the inclusion of question marks in the subjects of the email can increase the chance of opening an email. Moreover, they hinted that there are specific times during the day where there are more chances that the marketing emails will be noticed and read by their recipients. These times can be identified by using data mining technologies.

Direct emails could be forwarded to specific users for different reasons. Evans, (2018) described advertising emails in three categories: (i) promotional emails that raise awareness about attractive offers, including discounts and reduced prices of products and services. This type of email is very helpful to increase sales and customer loyalty. Some innovative marketers are using disruptive technologies, including gamification to reward and incentivize online users to click their email links; (ii) electronic newsletters that are aimed at building consumer engagement. Hence, these emails ought to provide high-quality, interactive content to online users. These emails are also known as relational emails that are intended to build a rapport with online users; (iii) confirmation emails that are used to confirm to the customers that their online transactions were carried out successfully. These types of emails are very valuable in terms of branding and corporate image. In sum, the electronic newsletters are intended to redirect online users to the businesses’ websites.

Another major online marketing method is the social network marketing. Brands and corporations can feature their page on social media networks (e.g. Facebook or Instagram) to communicate with their customers and/or promote their products and services to their followers. This can result in an improved brand awareness and a surge in sales. On the other hand, customers can write their reviews about brands or even purchase products online (Smith, Hernández-García, Agudo Peregrina & Hair, 2016). Thus, social network marketing can have a positive impact on electronic positive eWOM advertising in addition to enhancing the customers’ loyalty (Smith et al, 2016).

There are other forms of social network marketing including influencer marketing, video marketing and viral marketing, among others. The social networks are providing various benefits to various marketers as they can use them to publish their content online. Their intention is to influence online users and to entice them to purchase their products or services. Liang, Wang and Zhao (2019) have developed a novel algorithm that can identify the effects of influencer marketing content. Notwithstanding, various social networks such as Facebook and Instagram are increasingly placing the businesses’ video ads for their subscribers. In both cases, the advertisers may use Facebook marketing (Instagram is owned by Facebook) to identify the most appropriate subscribers to serve their ads (Camilleri, 2019). The social networks are a very suitable place for targeted advertising because they have access to a wide range of user information such as their demographical details, and other relevant information (Hajarian, Bastanfard, Mohammadzadeh & Khalilian, 2019a). However, online users may not always be interested in the marketers’ social media messages. As a result, they may decide to block or filter ads (Camilleri, 2020).

One of the most profitable and interesting online marketing methods is the Electronic Word of Mouth (eWOM) (see Hajarian, Bastanfard, Mohammadzadeh & Khalilian, 2017). The internet users are increasingly engaging in eWOM. More individuals are sharing their positive or negative statements about products or services (Ismagilova, Dwivedi, Slade & Williams, 2017). Hence, the individual users’ reviews in online fora, blogs, and social media can be considered as eWOM. Ismagilova et al. (2017) stated that the businesses would benefit through positive eWOM as this would improve their positioning in their consumers’ minds. Moreover, eWOM is also useful to prospective consumers as they rely on the consumers’ independent comments about their experience with the businesses’ products or services. The consumers’ reviews and ratings can reduce the risk and search time of prospective consumers. In addition, individuals can use the review platforms to ask questions and/or interact with other users. These are some of the motivations that lure online users to engage in eWOM.

Influencer marketing is another type of online marketing that is conspicuous with the social media. The influencers may include those online users who are promoting products or brands to their audiences. Hence, influencer marketing is closely related to eWOM advertising. However, in this case, the influencer may be a popular individual including a celebrity, figurehead or an athlete who will usually have a high number of followers on social media. The influencers may be considered as the celebrities of online social networks. They are proficient in personal branding (Jin & Muqaddam, 2019). Hence, the social media influencers will promote their image like a brand. Thus, the influencer marketing, involves the cooperation of two brands, the social media influencer and the brand that s/he are promoting (Jin & Muqaddam, 2019). Social media influencers can charge up to $250,000 for each post (Lieber, 2018), although this depends on the number of their audience and the platform that they are active on. The influencers work on different topics such as lifestyle, fashion, comedy, politics and gaming (Stoldt, 2019). It is projected that influencer marketing will become a $5 to $10 billion market by 2020 (Mediakix, 2019). It is worth to mention that the gaming influencers are also becoming very successful in online marketing.

Viral marketing is another method of online marketing that can be performed by regular social media users (not necessarily influencers). The social media subscribers can disseminate online content, including websites, images and videos among friends, colleagues and acquaintances (Daif & Elsayed, 2019). Their social media posts may become viral (like a virus) if they are appreciated by their audiences. In this case, the posts will be shared and reshared by third parties. The most appealing or creative content can turn viral in different social media. For example, breaking news or emotional content, including humoristic videos have the potential to become viral content as they are usually appreciated and shared by social media users.

The social networks as well as the messengers like Facebook messenger, WhatsApp, et cetera are ideal vehicles of viral marketing as online users and their contacts are active on them. Similarly, other marketing methods such as email marketing can also be used as a tool for viral marketing. In viral marketing the influencers can play a very important role as they can spread the message among their followers. Hence, the most influential people could propagate online content that can turn viral. Nguyen, Thai and Dinh (2016) have developed algorithms that identify the most effective social media influencers that have more clout among their followers. In a similar way, businesses can identify and recruit influential social media users to disseminate their promotional content (Pfeiffer & Zheleva, 2018). Their viral marketing strategies may involve mass-marketing sharing incentives, where users receive rewards for promoting ads among their friends (Pfeiffer & Zheleva, 2018). There are business websites that are incentivizing online users, by offering financial rewards if they invite their friends to use their services. 

Videos are one of the best methods for marketing. Abouyounes (2019) estimated that over 80% of internet traffic was related to videos in 2019. He projected that US businesses will spend $28 billion on video marketing in 2020. The relevant literature suggests that individuals may be intrigued to share emotional videos. Such videos may even go viral (Nikolinakou & King, 2018). The elements of surprise, happiness as well as other factors such as the length of the video can affect whether a video turns viral or not. Abouyounes’s (2019) reported that the individuals would share a video with their friends if they found it to be interesting. Alternatively, they may decide to disseminate such videos on social media to share cognitive (informational) and/or emotional messages among their contacts. Hence, the term social video marketing refers to those videos that can increase the social media users’ engagement with video content. Over 77% of the business that have used social video marketing have reported a positive direct impact on their online metrics (Camilleri, 2017).

With the rise of social media, many online users have started to refine the content of their online messages to appeal to the different digital audiences. The online users’ content marketing involves the creation of relevant messages that are shared via videos, blogs and social media content. These messages are intended to stimulate the recipients’ interest. The content marketers’ aim is to engage with existing and potential customers (Järvinen & Taiminen, 2016). Therefore, their marketing messages ought to be relevant for their target audiences. The online users may not perceive that the marketed content is valuable and informative for them. Thus, the content should be carefully adapted to the targeted audience. The content marketers may use various interactive systems to engage with online users in order to gain their trust (Montero, Zarraonandia, Diaz, & Aedo, 2019; Díaz, Aedo & Zarraonandia, 2019a; Díaz, Zarraonandía, Sánchez-Francisco, Aedo & Onorati, 2019b; Díaz & Ioannou, 2019c; Baltes, 2015). To this end, the advertisers should analyze the interests of their target audience to better understand their preferred content. Successful content marketing relies on the creation of convincing and timely messages that appeal to online users. Zarrella (2013) study suggested that some Facebook and Twitter content is more effective during particular times of the day and in some days of the week.

Native advertising present promotional content including articles, infographics, videos, et cetera that are integrated within the platforms where they are featured (e.g. in search engines or social media). In 2014, various business invested more than $3.2 billion in this type of digital advertising (Wojdynski & Evans, 2016). Native ads may include banners or short articles that are presented in webpages. However, online users would be redirected to other webpages if they click on them. Parsana, Poola, Wang and Wang (2018) has explored the click-through rates (CTR) of native advertisements as they examined the historic data of online users. Other studies investigated how native ads were consistent in different situations and pages (Lin, 2018).

The advertorials are similar to native ads as they are featured as reports or as recommendations within websites. They are presented in such a way that the reader thinks that they are part of the news (Charlesworth, 2018). This type of advertising can be featured as video or infographic content that will redirect the online users to the advertisers’ websites. Besides, these ads may indicate a small “sponsored by” note that is usually ignored by the online users. In some regards, this is similar to the editorial content marketing, where editors write promotional content about a company or a website. However, in the case of editorial marketing, the main purpose is to educate or to inform the readers about a specific subject. Therefore, such a news item is usually presented free of charge as it appears at the discretion of the editor. Nevertheless, both advertorial and editorial marketing can have a positive impact on brand awareness and brand equity.

Various technologies companies including Google and Facebook are providing location-based marketing opportunities to many businesses. However, this innovative marketing approach relies on the individuals’ willingness to share their location data with their chosen mobile applications (apps). For example, foursquare, among other apps, can send messages to its mobile users (if they enable location sharing). It can convey messages about the users favorite spots, including businesses, facilities, et cetera, when they are located in close proximity to them (Guzzo, D’Andrea, Ferri & Grifoni, 2012).

Currently, the messengers are growing at a very fast pace. It may appear that they are becoming more popular than the social networks. Messengers such as WhatsApp, Viber, Telegram, Facebook Messenger, WeChat, and QQ, among others, have over 4.6 billion active users in a month (Mehner, 2019). This makes them a very attractive channel for online marketing. Since messengers can provide a private, secure connection between the business and their customers, they are very useful tools for marketing purposes. Moreover, the messengers can be used in conjunction with other advertisement methods like display (or banner) marketing, viral marketing, click-to-message ads, et cetera. Online or mobile users can use the messengers to communicate with a company representative (or bot) on different issues. They may even raise their complaints through such systems. Some messengers like Apple Business Chat and WeChat, among others have also integrated in-app payments. Hence, the messengers have lots of possible features and can be used to improve the business-to-consumer (B2C) relationships. In addition, other messengers like Skype, Google Meet, Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Webex, et cetera can provide video conferencing platforms for corporations and small businesses. These systems have become very popular communication tools during COVID-19.

Other online marketing approaches can assist corporations in building their brand equity among customers. Various businesses are organizing virtual events and webinars to engage with their target audience. They may raise awareness about their events by sending invitations (via email) to their subscribers (Harvey & An, 2018). The organization of the virtual meetings are remarkably cheaper than face-to-face meetings (Lande, 2011). They can be recorded and/or broadcast to wider audiences through live streaming technologies via social media (Veissi, 2017). Today, online users can also use Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn live streaming facilities to broadcast their videos in real time and share them amongst their followers.

The display (or banner) marketing may usually comprise promotional videos, images and/or textual content. They are usually presented in webpages and applications. Thus, online banners may advertise products or services on internet websites to increase brand awareness (Turban et al, 2018). The display ads may be created by the website owners themselves. Alternatively, they may have been placed by Google Adsense on behalf of their customers (advertisers).

The display advertisements may also be featured in digital and mobile games. Such online advertisements are also known as in-game marketing.  The digital ads can be included within the games’ apps and/or may also be accessed through popular social networks. The in-game marketing may either be static (as the ads cannot be modified after the game was released) or dynamic (where new ads will be displayed via Internet connections) (Terlutter & Capella, 2013). Lewis and Porter (2010) suggested that in-game advertising should be harmonious with the games’ environments. There are different forms of advertisements that can be featured in games. For instance, advergames are serious games that have been developed in close collaboration with a corporate entity for advertising purposes (Terlutter & Capella, 2013), e.g. Pepsi man game for PlayStation.

The latest online marketing technologies are increasingly using interactive systems like augmented reality. These innovations are being utilized to enhance the businesses’ engagement with their consumers (Díaz et al., 2019b). The augmented reality software can help the businesses to promote their products (Turban et al, 2018). For example, IKEA (the furnishing company) has introduced an augmented reality application to help their customers to visualize how their products would appear in their homes. Similarly, online fashion stores can benefit from augmented reality applications as their customers can customize their personal avatars with their appearance, in terms of size, length and body type, to check out products well before they commit to purchase them (Montero et al., 2019).

The banner advertising was one of the earliest forms of digital marketing. However, there were other unsophisticated online marketing tactics that were used in the past. Some of these methods are still being used by some marketers. For instance, online users can list themselves and/or their organization in an online directory. This marketing channel is similar to the traditional yellow pages (Guzzo et al., 2012). The online directory has preceded the search engine marketing (SEM). This form of online advertising involves paid advertisements that appear on search engine results pages (like native ads). Currently, SEM is valued at $70 billion market by 2020 (Aswani, Kar, Ilavarasan & Dwivedi, 2018). The advertisements may be related to specific keywords that are used in search queries. SEM can be presented in a variety of formats, including small, text-based ads or visual, product listing ads. The advertisers bid on the keywords that are used in the search engines. Therefore, they will pay the search engines like Google and Bing to feature their ads alongside the search results.

The search engine optimization (SEO) is different than SEM. The individuals or organizations do not have to pay the search engine for traffic and clicks. SEO involves a set of practices that are intended to improve the websites’ visibility within the search results of search engines. The search engines algorithms can optimize the search results of certain websites, (i) if they have published relevant content, (ii) if they regularly update their content, and (iii) if they include link-worthy sites. Although, SEO is a free tool, Google AdWords and Bing ads are two popular search engine marketing platforms that can promote websites in their search engines (through their SEM packages). Various researchers have relied on different scientific approaches to optimise the search engine results of their queries. For example, Wong, Collins and Venkataraman, (2018) have used machine learning methods to identify which ad placements and biddings were yielding the best return of investment from Google Adwords.

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Understanding motivations to subscribe to online streaming services like Netflix, AmazonPrime, HBO, Disney+ or Hulu

This is an excerpt from one of my latest contributions.

This contribution explored the individuals’ motivations to use streaming technologies to watch live broadcast programs and/or recorded content. It differentiated itself from other research, as it integrated valid measures that were drawn from the technology acceptance model (TAM )(Nagy, 2018; Munoz-Leiva et al., 2017; Niehaves and Plattfaut, 2014; Cha, 2013; Davis, 1989) and from the Uses and Gratifications Theory (UGT) (Steiner and Xu, 2018; Riddle et al., 2018; Joo and Sang, 2013; Bondad-Brown et al., 2012; Katz et al., 1973).

The critical review of the relevant literature reported that both theories were widely used (and cited) in academia to investigate the individuals’ behavioral intentions to adopt new technologies, in different contexts (Manis and Choi, 2019, Liu et al., 2010, Benbasat and Barki, 2007). In essence, TAM suggests that the individuals’ perceptions about the ease of use and the usefulness of certain technologies would predict their intentions to use themagain in the future (Sch,  et al., 2019; Munoz-Leiva et al., 2017; Rauniar et al., 2014; Wallace and Sheetz, 2014; Davis et al., 1989; Davis, 1989). Moreover, UGT assumes that individuals seek to gratify their intrinsic and extrinsic needs through habitual consumptions of media technologies (Kaur et al., 2020; Perks and Turner, 2019; Ray et al., 2019; Li et al., 2017; Joo and Sang, 2013; Bartsch, 2012; Chen, 2011; Smock et al., 2011; Stafford et al., 2004; Katz et al., 1973). Figure 1 (from the Analysis section) sheds light on the explanatory power of this research model. It illustrates the total effects, outer loadings and the coefficient of determination (R squared) values of the constructs. The students’ indicated that they were committed to continue using the online streaming technologies (R2=0.517) as they perceived its usefulness (R2=0.179).

Figure 1. A graphical illustration of the results

The findings from this research indicated that the research participants perceived the ease of use as well as the usefulness of the streaming technologies. The results confirmed that they found it easy and straightforward to use their smart TVs, smart phones or tablets to access online streaming services. The respondents believed that the streaming technologies allowed them to view TV programs and/or recorded videos in a faster way than traditional TV subscriber services or satellite TV. They perceived the usefulness of online TV and/or video streaming services, as they enhanced their experience of watching informative and/or entertainment programs, particularly when they used their mobile devices (Nikou and Economides, 2017; Balakrishnan and Raj, 2012; Lee et al., 2020). Hence, the research participants were committed to continue using their smart devices to access their favorite online programs through streaming technologies. The regression analysis revealed that there were highly significant correlations between TAM’s core constructs including the perceived ease of use and the perceived usefulness of online streaming services. Both of these constructs were also significant antecedents of the individuals’ intentions to continue using the mentioned technologies. 

The individuals’ ritualized motivations to use the streaming technologies was found to have a very significant effect on their intention to use them. The respondents were using online streaming technologies on a habitual basis, to break the routine. These findings are consistent with the relevant literature concerning UGT, where the researchers concluded that, many often, individuals consider the media technologies as a form of entertainment (Dhir et al., 2017b, 2017c; Li, 2017; Bartsch, 2012; Smock et al., 2011) as individuals . In this case, the research participants sought emotional gratifications from the streaming technologies. Probably, they allowed them to relax in their free time. Other theoretical underpinnings reported that individuals use certain technologies to distract themselves into a better mood (Lonsdale and North; 2011; Park et al., 2009; Knobloch, 2003; Zillmann, 2000). Most of the respondents indicated that they were using these technologies to satisfy their needs for information and entertainment. These findings are consistent with previous studies (Lee et al., 2010; Quan-Haase and Young, 2010; Bumgarner, 2007).

The survey respondents revealed that they used online streaming technologies for instrumental purposes to watch informative programs, including news and talk shows as well as entertainment programs, including movies and series through online streaming services. Other researchers also reported that there were many instances where individuals benefited of their smart phones and tablets’ instrumentality and mobility, as they enabled them to access online content, including recorded videos, live streams and/or intermittent marketing content, when they were out and about.

The participants indicated their agreement with the survey item about the advertising options of online streaming services. This research suggests that they were aware that subscribed users of online streaming technologies can limit or block intrusive and/or repetitive advertisements they receive whilst using online streaming technologies (Belanche et al., 2019). Previous studies also reported that online users were increasingly applying ad blockers (Redondo and Aznar, 2018; Lim et al., 2015). The practitioners who are using digital marketing platforms, including online streaming websites to promote their products and/or services, ought to refine the quality and content of their customer centric marketing. Their underlying objective is to engage their audiences with relevant, helpful information that complements, rather than detracts from their overall online experience.

Practical implications

This research postulates that the respondents are consuming free-tier and/or paid streaming services through different digital media including mobile devices like smart phones and tablets. It confirmed that online streaming technologies can improve the consumers’ experiences of watching live broadcasts and/or recorded programs. The research participants perceived their ease of use and their usefulness as they can be accessed in any place, at any time, through decent Wi-Fi and/or network connections. The findings are consistent with the U&G theory as the participants indicated that the media technologies were entertaining. Hence, they were committed to continue using them. They indicated that they would continue using them in the foreseeable future. On the other hand, this study revealed that the respondents’ instrumental motivations to use online streaming services did not predict their intentions to use them (even though these technologies allowed their subscribers to limit or block online advertisements).

Most probably, the respondents were accessing on-demand streaming services in the comfort of their home, rather than from mobile technologies, when they were out and about. The reason for this behavior could be that they prefer watching online programs through big screens as opposed to watching them through their mobile devices’ smaller screens.  The latest TVs may offer quality, high resolution images and better sound than smart phones and tablets. Thus, smart TVs (that are using Apple and/or Android systems, among others) may be considered more appropriate to watch recorded movies and/or TV series. It is very likely that the participants would also perceive the ease of use and the usefulness of these technologies for other purposes, including digital gaming, video conferencing, et cetera.

Recently, the unprecedented outbreak of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and its preventative social distancing measures has led to a considerable increase in the use of digital media (Camilleri, 2020). There was also a surge in the subscriptions to paid streaming services (Marketwatch, 2020). As a result, more digital advertisements (ads) were featured in online streaming services. They are usually presented to free tier consumers as skippable or non-skippable streaming or static ads that appear before, during or after they access online broadcasts and/or recorded programs. Alternatively, online users may decide to subscribe to the streaming services, if they want to block the marketing messages they receive (Tefertiller, 2020; Kim, Nam and Ryu, 2017). This way, they could have more control over their online experience.

There are several media companies in the market, that are offering competitive streaming packages. Very often, they are producing new programs, including movies, series, et cetera. Consumers may be intrigued to upgrade their services to benefit of secure, reliable, low latency streaming infrastructures, and to gain access to more exclusive content in an ad-free, interactive environment. They may also appreciate if the service providers would increase their engagement with them by using customer-centric recommender systems. Consumers may be informed about their favorite programs through regular notifications to their mobile apps (if they subscribe to them). These alerts ought to be related to their personal preferences. As a result, the consumers would continue entertaining themselves with online streaming technologies as they perceive their instrumentality, ease of use and the usefulness of their services.

Suggested Citation: Camilleri, M.A. & Falzon, L. (2020). Understanding motivations to use online streaming services: Integrating the technology acceptance model (TAM) and the uses and gratifications theory (UGT), Spanish Journal of Marketing – ESIC., DOI: 10.1108/SJME-04-2020-0074

A free prepublication version of the full paper is available here: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/345814451_Understanding_motivations_to_use_online_streaming_services_Integrating_the_technology_acceptance_model_TAM_and_the_uses_and_gratifications_theory_UGT

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The Organizations’ Strategic Management Processes

Featuring an excerpt from one of my latest contributions that will be published in my latest edited textbook, “Strategic Corporate Communication in the Digital Age”

The Strategic Management Processes

Strategic Planning Stage  TargetsNarrativeKey questions
1.
Mission, vision and values  
Identify the main purpose and goals of the organization.    The goals are overarching principles which guide marketers in their decision making.

Businesses can plan ahead for their future (if they generate goals).
Why does the organization exist?  

What are its overall goals and objectives?  

What kind of product or service does it provide?  

Who are its primary customers and market?  

Where is the geographical region of operation?  
2.
Strategic objectives
 
Define the organization’s financial and non-financial objectives (including its strategic targets).  

Establish the economic model that will be used throughout the strategic management process.  
Objectives are the specific steps which are required to achieve goals.

The objectives ought to be specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and may have an associated timeline.  

Objectives can be motivating to both management and employees (when they meet their employers’ objectives).
Where is the organization going?  

How can the organization’s strategies contribute toward achieving its goals?  

What are the organization’s short-term, medium-term and long-term objectives?
3.
Strategic analysis  
Identify the organization’s internal strengths and external opportunities that can create long term value.  

Identify the competences, resources and capabilities that can impact and modify organizational strategies.  
Once an organization has decided ‘where it wants to be’, the next step is to identify the possible courses of action or strategies that might enable the organisation to get there.  

The organisation must carry out an information gathering exercise to ensure that it has a full understanding of where it is now.

This strategic analysis involves looking inwards and outwards.  
What are the strengths and weaknesses within the organization?  

What are the opportunities and threats from the external environment?  

How are the political, economic, social, technological, ethical and legal issues affecting the organization?  
4.
Strategy formulation
Evaluate strategies.  

Choose alternative courses of action.

Implement the long-term plan.  
Having carried out a strategic analysis, alternative strategies can be identified.

The strategies must then be evaluated in terms of suitability, feasibility and acceptability.  
Which strategies have the greatest potential to achieve the organization’s objectives?

Should the organization pursue cost leadership / differentiation leadership / cost focus / differentiation focus strategies?
5.
Measuring the effectiveness of the strategic plan
Measure actual results and compare with the plan  Actual results are recorded and analyzed.

The information about actual and planned results is fed back to the management and is often in the form of reports.
How can the organization respond to the divergences from the plan?  
What has gone well?

What has gone wrong?  

What corrective action should be taken?
(Oliveira, Martins, Camilleri & Jayantilal, 2021, adapted from Camilleri, 2018)

References

Camilleri, M.A. (2018). Travel Marketing, Tourism Economics and the Airline Product: An Introduction to Theory and Practice. Springer, Cham, Switzerland. ISBN 978-3-319-49849 2 http://www.springer.com/us/book/9783319498485

Oliveira, C., Martins, A., Camilleri, M.A. & Jayantilal, S. (2021). Using the Balanced Scorecard for strategic communication and performance management. In Camilleri, M.A. (Ed.) Strategic Corporate Communication in the Digital Age, Emerald, Bingley, UK. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/344883011_Using_the_Balanced_Scorecard_for_strategic_communication_and_performance_management (Free downloadable pre-publication version)

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Filed under Marketing, Strategic Management, Strategy

The businesses’ interactive engagement through digital media

This is an excerpt from one of my latest contributions on corporate communication.

How to Cite: Camilleri, M.A. & Isaias, P. (2020). The corporate communications executives’ interactive engagement through digital media. In Camilleri, M.A. (Ed.) Strategic Corporate Communication in the Digital Age, Emerald, Bingley, UK .

Several businesses are increasingly promoting their products and services through different channels. Their marketing managers and executives are utilizing different digital media (including social networks, blogs, wikis, electronic fora, webinars, podcasts, videos, et cetera) to reach wider audiences (Camilleri, 2019a). Very often, they are publishing relevant, high quality content online, at the right place and at the right times. Such content may be targeted at particular segments, niches or individual prospects.  At times, they are also benefiting of digital content that is co-created by other online users (Harrigan & Miles, 2014), as the Internet’s lack of gatekeeping has led to an increased engagement from many users (Camilleri, 2018a). The interactive media have enabled the emergence of a new participatory public sphere where everybody can dialogically interact and collaborate in the co-creation of content (Lamberton & Stephen, 2016; Kaplan & Haenlein, 2010).

The communications through digital media can be dynamic and in real time. Therefore, online users can increase direct interactions with organizations and other audiences (Camilleri, 2018b; Schultz, Utz & Göritz, 2011). Such interactive communications are often referred to as “viral” because ideas and opinions can spread through the web via word‐of‐mouth (Hajarian, Camilleri, Diaz & Aedo, 2020). There are several online channels that incorporate highly scalable, product recommender systems that feature independent reviews and rankings. These channels are often perceived as highly trustworthy sources by prospective customers (Filieri, 2016). The emergence of user-generated content in newsgroups, social media and crowdsourcing have led to positive or negative word of mouth publicity on brands, products and services (Rios Marques, Casais & Camilleri, 2020).

Such communicative features have become widely pervasive online (Tiago & Veríssimo 2014; Kaplan & Haenlein, 2010). For this reason, businesses need to acquaint themselves with the use of digital media in order to increase the impact of their communications. There is an opportunity for them to use interactive technologies to increase the frequency and reach of their messages (Camilleri, 2019a; Kaplan & Haenlein, 2010). Hence, their marketing executives ought to embrace the digital media to amplify the impact of their message. However, they need to create the right message to reach out to their chosen prospects. Notwithstanding, the businesses’ online engagement is neither automatic nor easy (Tiago & Veríssimo, 2014; Besiou, Hunter & Van Wassenhove, 2013). The dialogic features that are enabled by web pages, blogs, and other social media may prove difficult to apply (Camilleri, 2020a; Capriotti, Zeler & Camilleri, 2020).

To date, little empirical research has measured the corporate communications executives’ acceptance to use the digital media to promote products and/or to engage with online users. Previous studies reported that there are still many businesses that are not benefiting enough of social media, as they did not untap its full potential (Taiminen & Karjaluoto, 2015). Perhaps, they did not consider them as effective communications channels to promote products and services (Rather & Camilleri, 2019; Sin Tan, Choy Chong, Lin & Uchenna, 2010), or they depended on traditional advertising and promotions. Alternatively, businesses may lack the digital competences and skills to engage with online prospects; or may not possess sufficient resources to engage with them through the digital media (Camilleri, 2019b; Brouthers, Nakos & Dimitratos, 2015).

This contribution addresses a knowledge gap in academic literature as it examines the corporate communications executives’ technology acceptance and their behavioral intentions to engage in interactive technologies. It adapted valid and reliable measures that explored the respondents’ pace of technological innovation, social influences, as well as their perceptions on the usefulness and the ease of use of digital media. Moreover, this study examined the participants’ intentions to engage with interactive technologies. It investigated whether the chosen constructs of our research model, were affected by the demographic variables, including age, gender and experiences. It shed light on the causal path that explains the rationale behind the utilization of digital media for interactive engagement with online users.

_________________________

The study adapted the constructs from the technology acceptance model and from the theory of planned behavior. In sum, it hypothesizes that the individuals’ pace of technological innovation, perceived usefulness, ease of use and social influences are the antecedents of their behavioral intention to use the digital media for interactive engagement with online users. Moreover, it presumes that the demographic variables, including age, gender and experience mediate these relationships, as illustrated in Figure 1.

Figure 1. A research model on the users’ interactive engagement with digital media

References

Brouthers, K. D., Nakos, G. & Dimitratos, P. (2015). SME entrepreneurial orientation, international performance, and the moderating role of strategic alliances. Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice39(5), 1161-1187.

Camilleri, M. A. (2018a). The SMEs’ technology acceptance of digital media for stakeholder engagement. Journal of Small Business and Enterprise Development, 26(4), 504-521.

Camilleri, M. A. (2018b). The promotion of responsible tourism management through digital media. Tourism Planning & Development15(6), 653-671.

Camilleri, M. A. (2019a). Measuring the hoteliers’ interactive engagement through social media. In 14th European Conference on Innovation and Entrepreneurship (ECIE2019), University of Peloponnese, Kalamata, Greece.

Camilleri, M. A. (2019b). The online users’ perceptions toward electronic government services. Journal of Information, Communication and Ethics in Society, 18(2), 221-235.

Camilleri, M.A. (2020a). Strategic dialogic communication through digital media during COVID-19. In Camilleri, M.A. (Ed.), Strategic Corporate Communication in the Digital Age, Emerald, UK.

Capriotti, P., Zeler, I. & Camilleri, M.A. (2020). Corporate communication through social networks: The identification of key dimensions for dialogic communication. In Camilleri, M.A. (Ed.), Strategic Corporate Communication in the Digital Age, Emerald, UK.

Filieri, R. (2016). What makes an online consumer review trustworthy?. Annals of Tourism Research58, 46-64.

Hajarian, M., Camilleri, M.A.. Diaz, P & Aedo, I. (2020). A taxonomy of online marketing methods for corporate communication. In Camilleri, M.A. (Ed.), Strategic Corporate Communication in the Digital Age, Emerald, UK.

Harrigan, P. & Miles, M. (2014). From e-CRM to s-CRM. Critical factors underpinning the social CRM activities of SMEs. Small Enterprise Research21(1), 99-116.

Kaplan, A. M. & Haenlein, M. (2010). Users of the world, unite! The challenges and opportunities of Social Media. Business Horizons53(1), 59-68.

Lamberton, C. & Stephen, A. T. (2016). A thematic exploration of digital, social media, and mobile marketing: Research evolution from 2000 to 2015 and an agenda for future inquiry. Journal of Marketing80(6), 146-172.

Rather, R. A., & Camilleri, M. A. (2019). The effects of service quality and consumer-brand value congruity on hospitality brand loyalty. Anatolia30(4), 547-559.

Rios Marques, I., Casais, B. & Camilleri, M.A. (2020). The effect of macro celebrity and micro influencer endorsements on consumer-brand engagement on Instagram. In Camilleri, M.A. (Ed.), Strategic Corporate Communication in the Digital Age, Emerald, UK.

Schultz, F., Utz, S. & Göritz, A. (2011). Is the medium the message? Perceptions of and reactions to crisis communication via twitter, blogs and traditional media. Public Relations Review37(1), 20-27

Sin Tan, K., Choy Chong, S., Lin, B. & Cyril Eze, U. (2010). Internet-based ICT adoption among SMEs: Demographic versus benefits, barriers, and adoption intention. Journal of Enterprise Information Management23(1), 27-55.

Taiminen, H. M. & Karjaluoto, H. (2015). The usage of digital marketing channels in SMEs. Journal of Small Business and Enterprise Development22(4), 633-651.

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Filed under corporate communication, digital media, internet technologies, internet technologies and society, Marketing, online, social media, Stakeholder Engagement

A useful book on corporate communications through digital media

This authoritative book features a broad spectrum of theoretical and empirical contributions on topics relating to corporate communications in the digital age. It is a premier reference source and a valuable teaching resource for course instructors of advanced, undergraduate and post graduate courses in marketing and communications. It comprises fourteen engaging and timely chapters that appeal to today’s academic researchers including doctoral candidates, postdoctoral researchers, early career academics, as well as seasoned researchers. All chapters include an abstract, an introduction, the main body with headings and subheadings, conclusions and research implications. They were written in a critical and discursive manner to entice the curiosity of their readers.

Photo by Headway on Unsplash

Chapter 1 provides a descriptive overview of different online technologies and presents the findings from a systematic review on corporate communication and digital media. Camilleri (2020) implies that institutions and organizations ought to be credible and trustworthy in their interactive, dialogic communications during day-to-day operations as well as in crisis situations, if they want to reinforce their legitimacy in society. Chapter 2 clarifies the importance of trust and belonging in individual and organizational relationships. Allen, Sven, Marwan and Arslan (2020) suggest that trust nurtures social interactions that can ultimately lead to significant improvements in corporate communication and other benefits for organizations. Chapter 3 identifies key dimensions for dialogic communication through social media. Capriotti, Zeler and Camilleri (2020) put forward a conceptual framework that clarifies how organizations can enhance their dialogic communications through interactive technologies. Chapter 4 explores the marketing communications managers’ interactive engagement with the digital media. Camilleri and Isaias (2020) suggest that the pace of technological innovation, perceived usefulness, ease of use of online technologies as well as social influences are significant antecedents for the businesses’ engagement with the digital media. Chapter 5 explains that the Balanced Scorecard’s (BSC) performance management tools can be used to support corporate communications practitioners in their stakeholder engagement. Oliveira, Martins, Camilleri and Jayantilal (2020) imply that practitioners can use BSC’s metrics to align their communication technologies, including big data analytics, with organizational strategy and performance management, in the digital era. Chapter 6 focuses on UK universities’ corporate communications through Twitter. Mogaji, Watat, Olaleye and Ukpabi (2020) find that British universities are increasingly using this medium to attract new students, to retain academic employees and to promote their activities and events. Chapter 7 investigates the use of mobile learning (m-learning) technologies for corporate training. Butler, Camilleri, Creed and Zutshi (2020) shed light on key contextual factors that can have an effect on the successful delivery of continuous professional development of employees through mobile technologies.

Chapter 8 evaluates the effects of influencer marketing on consumer-brand engagement on Instagram. Rios Marques, Casais and Camilleri (2020) identify two types of social media influencers. Chapter 9 explores in-store communications of large-scale retailers. Riboldazzi and Capriello (2020) use an omni-channel approach as they integrate traditional and digital media in their theoretical model for informative, in-store communications. Chapter 10 indicates that various corporations are utilizing different social media channels for different purposes. Troise and Camilleri (2020) contend that they are using them to promote their products or services and/or to convey commercial information to their stakeholders. Chapter 11 appraises the materiality of the corporations’ integrated disclosures of financial and non-financial performance. Rodríguez-Gutiérrez (2020) identifies the key determinants for the materiality of integrated reports.Chapter 12 describes various electronic marketing (emarketing) practices of micro, small and medium sized enterprises in India. Singh, Kumar and Kalia (2020) conclude that Indian owner-managers are not always engaging with their social media followers in a professional manner. Chapter 13 suggests that there is scope for small enterprises to use Web 2.0 technologies and associated social media applications for branding, advertising and corporate communication. Oni (2020) maintains that social media may be used as a marketing communications tool to attract customers and for internal communications with employees. Chapter 14 shed light on the online marketing tactics that are being used for corporate communication purposes. Hajarian, Camilleri, Diaz and Aedo (2020) outline different online channels including one-way and two-way communication technologies.

Endorsements

“Digital communications are increasingly central to the process of building trust, reputation and support.  It’s as true for companies selling products as it is for politicians canvasing for votes.  This book provides a framework for understanding and using online media and will be required reading for serious students of communication”.

Dr. Charles J. Fombrun, Former Professor at New York University, NYU-Stern School, Founder & Chairman Emeritus, Reputation Institute/The RepTrak Company.

“This book has addressed a current and relevant topic relating to an important aspect of digital transformation. Various chapters of this book provide valuable insights about a variety of issues relating to “Strategic Corporate Communication in the Digital Age”. The book will be a useful resource for both academics and practitioners engaged in marketing- and communications-related activities. I am delighted to endorse this valuable resource”.

Dr. Yogesh K. Dwivedi, Professor at the School of Management at Swansea University, UK and Editor-in-Chief of the International Journal of Information Management.

“This title covers a range of relevant issues and trends related to strategic corporate communication in an increasingly digital era. For example, not only does it address communication from a social media, balanced scorecard, and stakeholder engagement perspective, but it also integrates relevant contemporary insights related to SMEs and COVID-19. This is a must-read for any corporate communications professional or researcher”.

Dr. Linda Hollebeek, Associate Professor at Montpellier Business School, France and Tallinn University of Technology, Estonia.

“Corporate communication is changing rapidly, and digital media represent a tremendous opportunity for companies of all sizes to better achieve their communication goals. This book provides important insights into relevant trends and charts critical ways in which digital media can be used to their full potential” 

Dr. Ulrike Gretzel, Director of Research at Netnografica and Senior Fellow at the Center for Public Relations, University of Southern California, USA.

“This new book by Professor Mark Camilleri promises again valuable insights in corporate communication in the digital era with a special focus on Corporate Social Responsibility. The book sets a new standard in our thinking of responsibilities in our digital connected world”. 

Dr. Wim Elving, Professor at Hanze University of Applied Sciences, Groningen, The Netherlands. 

References

Allen, K.A. Sven, G.T., Marwan, S. & Arslan, G. (2020). Trust and belonging in individual and organizational relationships. In Camilleri, M.A. (Ed.), Strategic Corporate Communication in the Digital Age, Emerald, UK.

Butler, A. Camilleri, M.A., Creed, A. & Zutshi, A. (2020). The use of mobile learning technologies for corporate training and development: A contextual framework. In Camilleri, M.A. (Ed.), Strategic Corporate Communication in the Digital Age, Emerald, UK.

Camilleri, M.A. (2020). Strategic dialogic communication through digital media during COVID-19. In Camilleri, M.A. (Ed.), Strategic Corporate Communication in the Digital Age, Emerald, UK.

Camilleri, M.A. & Isaias, P. (2020). The businesses’ interactive engagement through digital media. In Camilleri, M.A. (Ed.), Strategic Corporate Communication in the Digital Age, Emerald, UK.

Capriotti, P., Zeler, I. & Camilleri, M.A. (2020). Corporate communication through social networks: The identification of key dimensions for dialogic communication. In Camilleri, M.A. (Ed.), Strategic Corporate Communication in the Digital Age, Emerald, UK.

Hajarian, M., Camilleri, M.A.. Diaz, P & Aedo, I. (2020). A taxonomy of online marketing methods for corporate communication. In Camilleri, M.A. (Ed.), Strategic Corporate Communication in the Digital Age, Emerald, UK.

Mogaji, E., Watat, J.K., Olaleye, S.A. & Ukpabi, D. (2020). Recruit, retain and report: UK universities’ strategic communication with stakeholders on Twitter. In Camilleri, M.A. (Ed.), Strategic Corporate Communication in the Digital Age, Emerald, UK.

Oliveira, C., Martins, A., Camilleri, M.A. & Jayantilal, S. (2020). Using the balanced scorecard for strategic communication and performance management. In Camilleri, M.A. (Ed.), Strategic Corporate Communication in the Digital Age, Emerald, UK.

Oni, O. (2020). Small and medium sized enterprises’ engagement with social media for corporate communication. In Camilleri, M.A. (Ed.), Strategic Corporate Communication in the Digital Age, Emerald, UK.

Riboldazzi, S. & Capriello, A. (2020). Large-scale retailers, digital media and in-store communications. In Camilleri, M.A. (Ed.), Strategic Corporate Communication in the Digital Age, Emerald, UK.

Rios Marques, I., Casais, B. & Camilleri, M.A. (2020). The effect of macro celebrity and micro influencer endorsements on consumer-brand engagement on Instagram. In Camilleri, M.A. (Ed.), Strategic Corporate Communication in the Digital Age, Emerald, UK.

Rodríguez-Gutiérrez, P. (2020). Corporate communication and integrated reporting: the materiality determination process and stakeholder engagement in Spain. In Camilleri, M.A. (Ed.), Strategic Corporate Communication in the Digital Age, Emerald, UK.

Singh, T., Kumar, R. & Kalia, P. (2020). E-marketing practices of micro, small and medium sized enterprises. Evidence from India. In Camilleri, M.A. (Ed.), Strategic Corporate Communication in the Digital Age, Emerald, UK.

Troise, C. & Camilleri, M.A. (2020). The use of the digital media for marketing, CSR communication and stakeholder engagement. In Camilleri, M.A. (Ed.), Strategic Corporate Communication in the Digital Age, Emerald, UK.

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Filed under Analytics, Big Data, Business, corporate communication, Corporate Social Responsibility, COVID19, CSR, digital media, Integrated Reporting, internet technologies, internet technologies and society, Marketing, Mobile, mobile learning, online, performance management, Small Business, SMEs, social media, Stakeholder Engagement, Sustainability, Web

Top social media platforms

Image by Sara Kurfeß

Many online users have subscribed to different social media, including Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn, among others for different reasons. Individuals and groups use them to publish their ideas in writing, images or videos. They also enable them to share hyperlinks to articles, pictures and videos. There are social media users who like to follow the updates of their friends, colleagues, acquaintances or individuals who share their interests. Very often, the news is broadcast through social networks and is disseminated in a viral manner through the social media users’ likes or shares before it is covered by the traditional media like television and newspapers. Online users may be intrigued to use the social media create their social network, or to join virtual communities. They may do so to connect with other individuals who shared their interests and values. Many online users have subscribed to different social media, including Facebook, Youtube, Instagram, Twitter and Linkedin, among others for different reasons.

Currently, Facebook has 2.45 billion users. Other popular social media networks include Instagram (1 billion users), Reddit (430 million users), Snapchat (360 million users), Twitter (330 million users), Pinterest (322 million users) and Linkedin (310 million users).

Individuals and groups use these social media to publish their ideas in writing, images or videos. They also enable them to share hyperlinks to articles, pictures and videos. There are social media users who like to follow the updates of their friends, colleagues, acquaintances or individuals who share their interests. Very often, the news is broadcast through social networks and is disseminated in a viral manner through the social media users’ likes or shares before it is covered by the traditional media like television and newspapers. Online users may be intrigued to use the social media create their social network, or to join virtual communities. They may do so to connect with other individuals who shared their interests or values.

Facebook is used by various organisations, including businesses to engage with its users. For example, different businesses are creating interactive pages and groups to disseminate information about their products and services. They utilise Facebook Messenger, or live videos to enhance their communications. Facebook is also used by academics to enhance the visibility of their publications and to raise awareness about the findings from their research. However, individuals use this medium to keep in touch with friends, colleagues, classmates, former classmates, former co-workers, and with other individuals who may share similar interests.

Like Facebook, other social media, including Twitter can be used to target large audiences and communities. Twitter is a platform that is based on topical content. Generally, its users are encouraged to use keywords and hashtags on particular topics, in particular locations. Twitter is restricted with a 280-character limit. Therefore, its subscribers have to post short, focused messages with relevant content that appeals to their followers. Moreover, they are expected to dedicate time to look after their account as they need to respond to their followers to avoid negative criticism. However, it allows direct, two-way communications among subscribers. Hence, it can be used to engage in interactive conversations with other users. Other digital networks include Instagram, Snapchat and Pinterest.  Instagram and Pinterest are focused on the dissemination of images and visual content. Like Instagram, Snapchat also features videos and user-generated content and may include influencer marketing material. On the other hand, Reddit appeals to more than 150,000 communities and niches, who share similar interests on various topics.

The usage of social media has radically influenced the style of communication and the dissemination of knowledge and information. Platforms can be personalised, self-managed and interconnected as they can blend written content with images, videos and hyperlinks. This disruptive innovation has led individuals from different demographic segments in society, to refine their digital and communication skills. It is obvious that social media has impacted our way of thinking, talking and even our social lives.

This is an excerpt from one of my latest working papers entitled; “The impact of social media and fake news on socio-political contexts”.

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Filed under digital media, internet technologies, internet technologies and society, Marketing, online, social media, Web

Call for Chapters: Consumer Engagement in Tourism and Hospitality (pre, during and post covid-19)

This academic book will be published by Goodfellow Publishers (Oxford, UK)

consumer interactive engagement in tourism and hospitality

Editors
Prof. Dr. Mark Anthony Camilleri
University of Malta, Malta.
Email: mark.a.camilleri@um.edu.mt

Dr. Rather Raouf
University of Jammu, India.

Prof. Dr. Dimitrios Buhalis
Bournemouth University, UK.

Important Dates
Abstract submission: 31st July 2020
Full chapters due: 31st January 2021
Final submission date: 15th March 2021

Introduction
The customer engagement concept has received lots of attention in different academic disciplines including: organisational behaviour (and employee engagement), psychology (and task engagement), sociology (and civic engagement) as well as in marketing (and branding) (Brodie, Hollebeek, Jurić, & Ilić, 2011; Chu & Kim, 2011; Taheri, Jafari, & O’Gorman, 2014; Buhalis & Foerste, 2015). In a similar vein, the tourism industry practitioners are also recognising the importance of customer engagement as they are increasingly delivering enjoyable, transformative activities that improve the customers’ experiences (Walls, Okumus, Wang, & Kwun, 2011; So, King & Sparks, 2014; Ali, Ryu & Hussain, 2016; Harrigan, Evers, Miles & Daly, 2017; Camilleri, 2019a, 2019b). The latest trends comprise the adaptation of new technologies, interactive service delivery and offerings, and service personalisation (e.g. Hollebeek, Shrivastava, & Chen, 2019; Rather & Camilleri, 2019; Rather, Hollebeek, Islam, 2019; Hollebeek & Rather, 2019).

In tourism research, there are different drivers, antecedents, and/or determinants of customer engagement (So et al., 2014). These may comprise: the customers’ perceptions of authenticity, prior knowledge, mood regulation, brand sincerity, cultural capital, perceived intimacy, and desire for social interaction, among others (Taheri et al., 2014; Ram, Björk & Weidenfeld, 2016; Camilleri, 2018; Liang, Choi & Joppe, 2018; Rather et al., 2019; Fan, Buhalis & Lin, 2019). Existing research has also indicated that there are positive consequences if tourism service providers or destination management organisations engage with their customers, including; loyalty, satisfaction, self-brand connection, co-creation, commitment, positive word-of-mouth and online reviews, as well as purchase intentions (Litvin, Goldsmith & Pan, 2008; Bilgihan, Okumus & Cobanoglu, 2013; Harrigan et al., 2017; Rasoolimanesh, Noor, Schuberth & Jaafar, 2019; Buhalis & Sinarta, 2019; Buhalis, Andreu & Gnoth, 2020). In recent years, there has been a growing focus on the topics of customer engagement and customer experience, as academics started to investigate how customer interact with the businesses through different marketing channels and touch-points (Walls et al., 2011; Lemon & Verhoef, 2016). These stimuli can have an effect on the customers’ purchase decision (Fang, Ye, Kucukusta & Law, 2016). Similarly, the tourism practitioners are using the digital media and mobile technologies to engage with customers to improve their experience (Sigala, Christou & Gretzel, 2012; Camilleri, 2018; Buhalis, 2020). For example, tourism service providers are increasingly using high-fidelity, interactive channels (e.g. virtual reality, social media, online and mobile booking systems) in an attempt to enhance their customers’ experience (Sigala et al., 2012).

However, despite the concepts of customer engagement and customer experience have received significant attention from the industry practitioners, there are gaps in academic knowledge, as there are still limited theoretical and empirical studies that have explored these topics in the tourism context, including; tourist destinations, airlines, cruises, tour operators, travel agencies, accommodation service providers, like hotels, Airbnb operators, timeshare, etc. Moreover, there are even fewer contributions that have explored the effect of the 2019-2020 corona virus pandemic (COVID19) on these sectors. The closure of the international borders as well as the latest travel ban and lock down conditions have inevitably led to grounded air planes, docked cruise ships, idle tour buses, shuttered tourism businesses and tourist attractions. This dramatic situation has resulted in a sudden downward spiral in international tourism arrivals and receipts. In this light, this timely publication will feature high impact research on consumer engagement within the tourism and hospitality: pre, during and post COVID-19.

Detailed Synopsis
This prospective title shall offer a thorough understanding about why there is scope for the tourism service providers and destination management organisations to successfully create, manage, and market tourism experiences. It will also provide theoretical and practical evidence of how, where and when they can seize the opportunities and address the challenges for effective consumer engagement in the tourism arena. Therefore, this book will include conceptual and empirical chapters covering the themes of Tourism Customer Engagement: Dimensions, Theories, and Frameworks; Tourism Customer Engagement: Key Antecedents and Consequences; Tourism Customer Experience: Theories, Structure and Frameworks; Customer Engagement in Evolving Technological Environments; Open innovation Technologies, Co-creation Experiences and Customer Engagement Approaches; and Emerging Issues. It is very likely that the tourism and hospitality businesses will be operating in the context of a “new normal” in a post COVID19 era. The editors are committed to enrich the existing body of academic literature on “Customer
Engagement and Experience in Tourism: pre, during and post COVID-19” by consolidating the marketing topics in the form of a comprehensive volume. Hence, this book will be accepting contributions that are related to the following themes:

• Customer Engagement in Tourism: Dimensionality, Theories and Frameworks
• Tourism engagement conceptualisations
• Dynamic framework of consumer engagement
• Dimensionality (cognitive, emotional, behavioural, and social dimensions) of consumer engagement)
• Typology of consumer engagement
• Employee engagement (emotional, cognitive and behavioural)
• Customer Engagement: Key Antecedents and Consequence
• Key antecedents and/or drivers of consumer engagement
• Customer engagement behaviours in tourism, travel and hospitality
• Key consequences of consumer engagement in tourism
• Tourist engagement and its impact on their satisfaction and behaviours
• Tourism Customer Experience: Theories and Conceptual Frameworks
• Conceptualisations of tourism experience
• Evolution of tourism experience research
• Dynamic framework of the tourist experience
• Key drivers of tourism experience
• Key consequences of tourism experience
• Cognitive, emotional, sensory, social and spiritual dimensions of customer experiences
• Role and measurement of emotions in tourism experiences
• Typology of tourism experience
• The essence of memorable experience
• Service employees and customer experience
• Tourism experiences in the light of global trends
• Issues and opportunities in customer journey mapping in tourism & hospitality experiences
• Open Innovation Technologies, Co-creation Experiences and Customer Engagement
• The role of technology in engagement and service experience
• Virtual reality, augmented reality in tourism engagement and experience
• Games and gamification in tourism, travel and hospitality
• Social media, online brand communities, and mobile applications in tourism engagement and experience
• Co-construction of the tourist engagement and experience in social networking sites
• Role of themes and stories about tourist engagement and experiences
• Role of customer touch points in smart tourism destinations and experiences.
• Open innovation and co-creation approaches
• Co-creation of tourism experience
• Key drivers of co-creation
• Key consequences of co-creation
• Co-creation through service dominant logic (SDL)
• Role of tourists and visitors in service experience for innovation
• Service innovation and value co-creation processes
Emerging Issues
• The socio-economic effects of COVID-19 on tourism and/or hospitality services
• Diversification of tourism and/or hospitality services during/after COVID-19
• The use of digital media during/after COVID-19
• The consumer engagement in a post COVID-19 era

Aims and Objectives
This academic book differentiates itself as it covers consumer engagement and experience in the realms of tourism, Moreover, it will include both theory and practical cases from around the globe.
• This academic book aims to explore and critically investigate the current debates, questions and controversies in the rapidly growing disciplines of Consumer Engagement and Experience in Tourism.
• It brings together leading specialists, including experienced academic researchers from various disciplinary backgrounds and geographical regions, to offer state-of-the-art theoretical reflection and empirical research on contemporary issues and debates in these timely topics.
• It also encourages constructive dialogue among academia across marketing-related fields of study.
• It will be international in its focus, as it transcends national boundaries.

Target Audience
• The book shall be a comprehensive reference point and source for academics who are interested on contemporary concepts, ideas and debates relating to consumer engagement and experience in tourism.
• The target audience of the book will be composed of experienced academic researchers, Ph.D. candidates, post-graduate researchers and advanced under-graduates in the field of consumer engagement, consumer experience and relationship marketing in various disciplines including tourism, hospitality, leisure, festivals and events.
• Furthermore, the book will offer good insights to prospective tourism industry practitioners including managers, executives and other employees who are willing to broaden their knowledge to better engage with consumers.

Submission Details
Academics and researchers are invited to submit a 300-word abstract before the 31st July 2020. Submissions should be sent to Mark.A.Camilleri@um.edu.mt. Authors will be notified about the editorial decision in August 2020. The accepted chapters should be submitted before the 31st January 2021. Their length should be around 7,000 words (excluding references, figures and tables). The manuscripts have to be typed double spaced in Times New Roman, font size 12, in an A4 paper. The contributions should feature the text, in the following sequence: title, abstract, keywords, introduction, literature review, methods, data analysis or interpretation of the findings, conclusions and implications, recommendations for future research, acknowledgements, references and a figure/table captions list in the same Word document. The references should be presented in APA style (Version 6). All submitted chapters will be
critically reviewed on a double-blind review basis. All authors will be requested to serve as reviewers for this book. They will receive a notification of acceptance, rejection or suggested modifications –before the 15th March 2021.

References
Ali, F., Ryu, K., & Hussain, K. (2016). Influence of experiences on memories, satisfaction and behavioral intentions: A study of creative tourism. Journal of Travel & Tourism Marketing, 33(1), 85-100.

Bilgihan, A., Okumus, F., & Cobanoglu, C. (2013). Generation Y travelers’ commitment to online social network websites. Tourism Management, 35, 13-22.

Brodie, R. J., Hollebeek, L. D., Jurić, B., & Ilić, A. (2011). Customer engagement: Conceptual domain, fundamental propositions, and implications for research. Journal of Service Research, 14(3), 252-271.

Buhalis, D. & Foerste, M. (2015). SoCoMo marketing for travel and tourism: Empowering co-creation of value. Journal of Destination Marketing & Management, 4(3), 151-161. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jdmm.2015.04.001

Buhalis, D. & Sinarta, Y. (2019). Real-time co-creation and nowness service: lessons from tourism and hospitality. Journal of Travel & Tourism Marketing, 36(5), 563-582. https://doi.org/10.1080/10548408.2019.1592059

Fan, D., Buhalis, D. & Lin, B. (2019). A tourist typology of online and face-to-face social contact: Destination immersion and tourism encapsulation/decapsulation, Annals of Tourism Research, 78, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.annals.2019.102757

Buhalis, D. (2020), Technology in tourism-from information communication technologies to eTourism and smart tourism towards ambient intelligence tourism: a perspective article, Tourism Review 75(1), 267-272.

Buhalis D, Andreu L. & Gnoth J. (2020). The dark side of the sharing economy: Balancing value co‐creation and value co‐destruction. Psychology and Marketing. Vol. 37(5), pp.689–704..https://doi.org/10.1002/mar.21344 or https://www.academia.edu/42133651

Camilleri, M.A. (2018). Travel marketing, tourism economics and the airline product. Cham: Springer.

Camilleri, M.A. (Ed.) (2019a). Tourism planning and destination marketing. Bingley: Emerald Publishing.

Camilleri, M. A. (Ed.). (2019b). The Branding of Tourist Destinations: Theoretical and Empirical Insights. Bingley: Emerald Publishing.

Chu, S. C., & Kim, Y. (2011). Determinants of consumer engagement in electronic word-of-mouth (eWOM) in social networking sites. International journal of Advertising, 30(1), 47-75.

Fang, B., Ye, Q., Kucukusta, D., & Law, R. (2016). Analysis of the perceived value of online tourism reviews: Influence of readability and reviewer characteristics. Tourism Management, 52, 498-506.

Harrigan, P., Evers, U., Miles, M., & Daly, T. (2017). Customer engagement with tourism social media brands. Tourism Management, 59, 597-609.

Hollebeek, L. D., Srivastava, R. K., & Chen, T. (2019). SD logic–informed customer engagement: integrative framework, revised fundamental propositions, and application to CRM. Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, 47(1), 161-185.

Lemon, K. N., & Verhoef, P. C. (2016). Understanding customer experience throughout the customer journey. Journal of Marketing, 80(6), 69-96.

Litvin, S. W., Goldsmith, R. E., & Pan, B. (2008). Electronic word-of-mouth in hospitality and tourism management. Tourism Management, 29(3), 458-468.

Rasoolimanesh, S. M., Md Noor, S., Schuberth, F., & Jaafar, M. (2019). Investigating the effects of tourist engagement on satisfaction and loyalty. The Service Industries Journal, 39(7-8), 559- 574.

Ram, Y., Björk, P., & Weidenfeld, A. (2016). Authenticity and place attachment of major visitor attractions. Tourism Management, 52, 110-122.

Rather, R. A., & Camilleri, M. A. (2019a). The effects of service quality and consumer-brand value congruity on hospitality brand loyalty. Anatolia, 30(4), 547-559.

Rather, R. A., & Hollebeek, L. D. (2019). Exploring and validating social identification and social exchange-based drivers of hospitality customer loyalty. International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management. 31(3), 1432-1451.

Rather, R. A., Hollebeek, L. D., & Islam, J. U. (2019). Tourism-based customer engagement: the construct, antecedents, and consequences. The Service Industries Journal, 39(7-8), 519-540.

Sigala, M., Christou, E., & Gretzel, U. (Eds.). (2012). Social media in travel, tourism and hospitality: Theory, practice and cases. Farnham, UK: Ashgate Publishing.

So, K. K. F., King, C., & Sparks, B. (2014). Customer engagement with tourism brands: Scale development and validation. Journal of Hospitality & Tourism Research, 38(3), 304-329.

Taheri, B., Jafari, A., & O’Gorman, K. (2014). Keeping your audience: Presenting a visitor engagement scale. Tourism Management, 42, 321-329.

Walls, A. R., Okumus, F., Wang, Y. R., & Kwun, D. J. W. (2011). An epistemological view of consumer experiences. International Journal of Hospitality Management, 30(1), 10-21.

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Post-COVID19: The hoteliers’ shifts in beliefs, behaviours and their outlook for the future

The 2019-2020 coronavirus pandemic (COVID19) is currently having a devastating effect on the global economy at large. At the time, its impact is even more conspicuous in certain service industries including the travel and tourism sectors.

The closure of the international borders as well as the latest travel ban and lock down conditions have inevitably led to grounded air planes, docked cruise ships, idle tour buses, shuttered tourism businesses and tourist attractions. This dramatic situation has resulted in a sudden downward spiral in international arrivals and receipts in many tourist destinations.

The hospitality enterprises including hotels, bed and breakfasts, pubs, cafes, restaurants and the like, that are usually run by family businesses, are experiencing an unprecedented crisis unlike other entities in the private sector.

Currently, there is no demand for their services. COVID19 has changed some of the practitioners’ attitudes, policies and behaviours as they have adapted themselves to: enhance digital collaborations; engage with remote working technologies;  increase their workplace hygiene; and to find alternative sources of income by diversifying their services, among other issues. Hopefully, there will be better prospects for them when the current crisis ends. It is very likely that they will be operating in the context of a “new normal” in a post COVID19 era.

(This is an excerpt from my latest research project)

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Filed under Coronavirus, COVID19, Hospitality, Human Resources, human resources management, Market Research, Marketing

The market for socially responsible investing

This is an excerpt from my latest paper, entitled: “The market for socially responsible investing: A review of the developments”. 

How to Cite: Camilleri, M.A. (2020). The market for socially responsible investing: A review of the developments. Social Responsibility Journal. DOI. 10.1108/SRJ-06-2019-0194.


There are various ratings and reference indices that are utilized by investors to evaluate financial and SRI portfolios (Scalet and Kelly, 2010). Typically, the SRI indices constitute a relevant proxy as they evaluate the ESG performance of listed businesses (Joliet and Titova, 2018; Le Sourd, 2011). A large number of SR contractors, analysts and research firms are increasingly specializing in the collection of ESG information as they perform ongoing analyses of corporate behaviors (Dumas and Louche, 2016). Many of them maintain a database and use it to provide their clients with a thorough ESG analysis (including proxy advice), benchmarks and engagement strategies of corporations. They publish directories of ethical and SRI funds, as they outline their investment strategies, screening criteria, and voting policies (Leite and Cortez, 2014). In a sense, these data providers support the responsible investors in their selection of funds.

 

SRI Indices, Ratings and Information Providers

KLD / Jantzi Global Environmental Index, Jantzi Research, Ethical Investment Research Service (Vigeo EIRIS) and Innovest (among others) analyze the corporations’ socially responsible and environmentally-sound behaviors as reported in Table 1. Some of their indices (to name a few) shed light about the impact of products (e.g. resource use, waste), the production processes (e.g. logging, pesticides), or proactive corporate activities (e.g. clean energy, recycling). Similarly, social issues are also a common category for these contractors. In the main, the SRI indices benchmark different types of firms hailing from diverse industries and sectors. They adjust their weighting for specific screening criteria as they choose which firms to include (or exclude) from their indices (Leite and Cortez, 2014; Scalet and Kelly, 2010). One of the oldest SRI indices for CSR and Sustainability ratings is the Dow Jones Sustainability Index. The companies that are featured in the Dow Jones Indices are analyzed by the Sustainable Asset Management (SAM) Group (i.e. a Swiss asset management company). Another popular SRI index is FTSE Russell’s KLD’s Domini 400 Social Index (also known as the KLD400) which partners with the Financial Times on a range of issues. Similarly, the Financial Times partners with an ESG research firm (i.e. EIRES) to construct its FTSE4 Good Index series. Smaller FTSE Responsible Investment Indices include the Catholic Values Index, the Calvert Social Index, the FTSE4Good indices, and the Dow Jones family of SRI Indices, among others. The KLD400 index screens the companies’ performance on a set of ESG criteria. It eliminates those companies that are involved in non-eligible industries. Impax, a specialist finance house (that focuses on the markets for cleaner or more efficient delivery of basic services of energy, water and waste) also maintain a group of FTSE Indices that are related to environmental technologies and business activities (FTSE Environment Technology and Environmental Opportunities). The Catholic Values Index uses the US Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Socially Responsible Investment Guidelines (i.e. positive screening approach) to scrutinize eligible companies (e.g., corporations with generous wage and benefit policies, or those who create environmentally beneficial technologies). This index could also exclude certain businesses trading in “irresponsible” activities. listed businesses according to their social audit of four criteria: the company’s products, their impact on the environment, labor relations, and community relations. The latter “community relations” variable includes issues such as the treatment of indigenous people, provision of local credit, operations of overseas subsidiaries, and the like. The responsible companies are then featured in the Index when and if they meet Calvert’s criteria. This index also maintains a target economic sector weighting scheme. Other smaller indices include; Ethibel Sustainability Index for Belgian (and other European) companies and OMX GES Ethical Index for Scandinavian companies, among others.

 

Table 1. Screenings of Responsible Investments

Positive Screens Negative Screens
Community Investment Alcohol
Employment / Equality Animal Testing
Environment Defence / Weapons
Human Rights Gambling
Labour Relations Tobacco
Proxy Voting

 

Generally, these SRI indices are considered as investment benchmarks. In a nutshell, SRI Indices have spawned a range of products, including index mutual funds, ETFs, and structured products (Riedl and Smeets, 2017). A wide array of SRI mutual funds regularly evaluate target companies and manage their investment portfolios. Therefore, they are expected to consider other important criteria such as risk and return targets (Trinks et al., 2018; Leite and Cortez, 2015; Humphrey and Lee, 2011). For instance, iShares lists two ETFs based on the KLD Index funds, and the Domini itself offers a number of actively managed mutual funds based on both ESG and community development issues (such as impact investments). In addition, there are research and ratings vendors who also manage a series of mutual funds, including Calvert and Domini (Scalet and Kelly, 2010).

 

Discussion

The SRI indices serve as a ‘seal of approval’ function for the responsible businesses that want to prove their positive impact investment credentials to their stakeholders. Currently, there are many factors that may be contributing for the growth of SRI:

 

Firstly, one of the most important factors for the proliferation of SRI is the access to information. Today’s investors are increasingly using technologies, including mobile devices and their related applications to keep them up to date on the most recent developments in business and society. Certain apps inform investors on the latest movements in the financial markets, in real-time. Notwithstanding, the SRI contractors are providing much higher quality data than ever before. As a result, all investors are in a position to take informed decisions that are based on evidence and research. Investors and analysts use “extra-financial information” to help them analyze investment decisions (GRI, 2019; Diouf and Boiral, 2017). This “extra-financial information” includes ESG disclosures on non-financial issues (Brooks and Oikonomou, 2018). These sources of information will encourage many businesses and enterprises to report on their responsible and sustainable practices (Diouf and Boiral, 2017). The companies’ integrated thinking could be a precursor for their integrated reporting (Camilleri, 2018; 2017b; GRI, 2019). Business can use integrated disclosures, where they provide details on their financial as well as on their non-financial information for the benefit of prospective investors and analysts, among other stakeholders.

 

Secondly, the gender equality issue has inevitably led to some of the most significant developments in the financial services industry. Nowadays, there are more emancipated women who are in employment, who are gainfully occupied as they are actively contributing in the labor market. Many women are completing higher educational programs and attaining relevant qualifications including MBA programs. Very often, these women move their way up the career ladder with large organizations. They may even become members on boards of directors and assume fiduciary duties and responsibilities. Other women are becoming entrepreneurs as they start their own business. During the last decades, an increased equality in the developed economies has led to SRI’s prolific growth. As a result, women are no longer the only the beneficiaries of social finance, as they are building a complete ecosystem of social investing (Maretick, 2015). “By 2020 women are expected to hold $72trn, 32% of the total. Most of the private wealth that changes hands in the coming decades is likely to go to women (The Economist, 2018). This wave of wealth is set to land in the laps of female investors who have shown positive attitudes toward social investing, when compared to their male counterparts. Maretick (2015) reported that half of the wealthiest women expressed an interest in social and environmental investing when compared to one-third of the wealthy men.

 

Thirdly, today’s investors are increasingly diversifying their portfolio of financial products. The default investment is the market portfolio, which is a value-weighted portfolio of all investable securities (Trinks and Scholtens, 2017). A growing body of evidence suggests that many investors do not necessarily have to sacrifice performance when they invest in socially responsible or environmentally sustainable assets. A relevant literature review denied the contention that social screening could result in corporate underperformance (Trinks and Scholtens, 2017; Lobe and Walkshäusl, 2011; Salaber 2013). Investors have realized that strategic corporate responsibility is congruent with prosperity (Porter and Kramer, 2011; Schueth, 2003). In fact, today’s major asset classes including global, international, domestic equity, balanced and fixed-income categories also comprise top-performing socially responsible mutual funds (Riedl and Smeets, 2017). Therefore, various financial products are reflecting the investors’ values and beliefs (Fritz and von Schnurbein, 2019). Consequentially, the broad range of competitive socially responsible investment options have resulted in diverse, well-balanced portfolios. In the U.S. and in other western economies, top-performing SRI funds can be found in all major asset classes. More and more investors are realizing that they can add value to their portfolios whilst supporting socially and environmental causes.

 

Fourthly, there are economic justifications for the existence of mutual funds in diversified portfolios. Although SRI funds are rated well above average performers no matter which ranking process one prefers to use (Scalet and Kelly, 2010; Schueth, 2003), other literature suggests that there are situations where the positive or negative screens did not add nor destroy the financial products’ portfolio value (Auer, 2016; Trinks and Scholtens, 2017; Hofmann et al., 2009). This matter can result in having mixed investments where there are SRI products that are marketed with other financial portfolios.

Currently, the financial industry is witnessing a consumer-driven phenomenon as there is a surge in demand for social investments. This paper mentioned a number of organizations that have developed indices to measure the organizational behaviors and their laudable practices. Very often, their metrics rely on positive or negative screens that are used to define socially responsible and sustainable investments (Leite and Cortez, 2014; Hofmann et al., 2009). However, despite these developments, the balanced investors are still investing their portfolio in different industries. As a result, they may be putting their money to support controversial businesses. Perhaps, in the future there could be alternative screening methods in addition to the extant inclusionary and exclusionary approaches. Several corporations are willingly disclosing their integrated reporting of financial and non-financial performance; as stakeholders including investors, demand a higher degree of accountability and transparency from them (Diouf and Boiral, 2017). As a result, a growing number of firms, are recognizing the business case for integrated thinking that incorporates financial and strategic corporate responsible behaviors. They can support the community through positive impact investments by allocating funds to reduce their externalities in society. Alternatively, they may facilitate shareholder activism and advocacy, among other actions (Viviers and Eccles, 2012). In sum, the responsible businesses’ stakeholder engagement as well as their sustainable investments can help them improve their bottom lines, whilst addressing their societal and community deficits.

 

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